We have become a research society and consumers are increasingly researching online before they make a purchase. This extends beyond physical products to professional services which impacts financial advisors. In fact, the traditional word of mouth, where a client recommends their advisor to a friend is now typically followed up by online research before they decide to contact that advisor. This has all become a common occurrence because it is easy to do, existing at our fingertips through using mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets.
Google has termed this online research as the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). It is called the “zero moment” because the online research happens before prospects even contact to meet with an advisor. This zero moment comes before the traditional marketing concepts first coined by Procter & Gamble as the first and second moments of truth. For advisors, the first moment of truth occurs when prospects first interact with a firm and decide whether to engage its services. The second moment of truth happens when prospects become clients and evaluate their experience with an advisor to decide if they like the services they are receiving.
Financial advisors should embrace the zero moment of truth because it will determine whether consumers engage you for products and services. Advisors can prepare by making changes to their website to capture consumers minds so they are more likely to contact based on the content on your website.
Not convinced? A Google Shopper Sciences survey of consumers conducted in April 2011 revealed that in the category of Banking, 91% of consumers are influenced by ZMOT, and for Insurance, 94% are influenced by ZMOT. Financial advice was not one of the categories measured, but you can see that for two financial services categories how ZMOT is influencing consumers.
Here are five areas you can address to make a good first impression in the zero moment of truth:
1. Be found in online search. Conduct an online search to see where your firm’s website appears in search results using various search terms. If the website does not appear in the top 10 search results then you can benefit from a search engine optimization (SEO) overhaul that will help ensure that your website ranks higher in online search. Advisors should also check how the website looks when viewed in a smart phone or tablet, as more consumers are using mobile devices for online search.
2. Evaluate website content. When consumers arrive at your website, what do they see? Is the content relevant and credible to them? Advisors provide an important service and your website should communicate that your firm is trustworthy and communicate what value your firm will bring if they choose to become a client.
3. Add new content. New content added regularly to a website will show that you are relevant and have something to say. New content also helps to rank a website higher in online search results based on the algorithms used by search engines. Adding a blog to your website and writing regular blog entries will help people get to know you and your firm and can make a difference in attracting prospective clients.
4. Use online video to get attention. A key way to connect with website visitors is through the use of video. Research has proven that video engages and retains visitors. More importantly, video is an opportunity for advisors to make an introduction in their own words and make a connection with prospective clients. Advisors can also post videos to talk about financial topics that are relevant and that will attract your ideal clients. YouTube has become the second most used search engine on the web, so it pays to create a YouTube channel as it costs nothing, and regularly post video content.
5. Use social media. The social media platforms such as FaceBook, LinkedIn, and Twitter can be used to steer people to your website. Advisors should think about what they can do to engage people on social media with content that contributes a thought or question that may start a dialogue and be shared with others. This sharing on social media will help advisors reach others who in turn can then choose to follow you online and visit your website.
Take action now on at least one of these areas so that your website is working for you as a prospecting tool to ensure that potential clients are finding you online. Include ZMOT as part of your marketing plan. The future is here and advisors can embrace their moments of truth by having a strong online presence with effective messaging to turn your website into a strong referral source for new clients.